There's little likelihood that the California primary will be shifted ahead of its June date next year, as Cranston once hoped. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D), a Cranston supporter, said yesterday that much as he would like to give Cranston a head start on the delegate race, "It is not in my interest or that of my legislative caucus to shift any delegates to an earlier date."

Cranston supporters have promoted the idea of choosing a big chunk of the 345-vote delegation, largest in the convention, at a caucus next March to boost Cranston's standing in the delegate counts when other states are making decisions.

But Brown said legislators want "a maximum turnout in the June primary" to turn back possible Republican initiatives on redistricting and the authority of the speaker's office, "and that means we want the delegates chosen that day."

The Democratic majority in the legislature will have the upper hand in that question. A Cranston spokesman acknowledged that "the senator has given up any idea of moving the primary forward."

California now holds its primary on the first Tuesday in June, along with Ohio, New Jersey and some smaller states. A move to advance the Ohio date, promoted by backers of Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), also has been stymied.